I’ve had an interest in history for many years, especially in the business world. I collect old books about selling and marketing and I think I have an above average knowledge of the history behind modern sales methods and modern marketing.
Another area that I’ve studied is the Domain Name System (DNS) and I enjoy seeking out the roots behind ideas, especially when it is relevant to the times. I dug this piece out of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comment (RFC) archives today and felt that it is especially so.
I never met Jon Postel, but I have quoted him often in my work and we all owe him our gratitude for being an ambassador to the world for the domain name system. Mr. Postel took the domain name system to a new level in 1996 when he authored this RFC about International country-code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). Today, ICANN continues that tradition by opening up TLDs to a new level of freedom and commercialism. Opinions continue to vary about the wisdom of pushing this envelope but I think that ultimately it will be proven for more good than harm.
Some of you will enjoy this small part of Internet history…
New Registries and iTLDs June 1996
Two points must be kept in mind: (a) domain names are and must be unique, and (b) trademarked names are not necessarily unique (and the are many examples of non-unique trademarks).
There are no international trademarks. There is no official
international registry of world wide trademarks. Trademarks
may be registered per country (and in the United States (at
least) per State). The World Intellectual Property
Organization offers an international arbitration service on
There are “strong” trademarks that are registered in many
countries and are vigorously defended. These may come close to
being unique. There are many “not so strong” trademarks that
may be regional or business sector specific (for example,
United Air Lines and United Van Lines, or the Acme Brick
Company and the Acme Electric Corporation)).
There are two conflicting goals of different trademark holders
with respect to domain names: (a) to protect their trademarks
against infringement, and (2) to have access to the domain name system to use their trademarks in a domain name.
Trademark infringement is the use of a trademarked name in a
way that may confuse the consumer about the source or quality
of a product or service. For strong trademarks there may also
be infringement if the use of a trademarked name dilutes the
value of the trademark.
Holders of strong trademarks want to control every use of their
trademark. These people would say it is pointless to create
additional top level domains since they will acquire, reserve,
and otherwise protect their trademarked name in every top-level domain so no new users will get access to domain names this way, and besides you are just making more work for the lawyers. While these holders of strong trademarks might not actually acquire their names in all the possible top-level domains (no extra income to the registries), they probably would take steps to stop any infringement thus making those name unavailable to anyone else (extra income to the lawyers).
Holders of not so strong trademarks want the ability to use
their trademarked name in a domain name while some other holder
of the same mark for a different purpose also can use their
trademarked name in a domain name. These people would say it is essential to create additional top-level domains to permit
fair access to domain names by holders of not so strong
I would suggest that the number of not so strong trademarks far
exceeds the number of strong trademarks and that the domain
name system should provide for the needs of the many rather
than protecting the privileges of the few. Thus new top-level
domains should be created.